When a 44-year-old Scotsman ventured south of the border to take over an ailing Manchester United team on Nov. 6, 1986, spouting out that he would 'Knock Liverpool off their f*%$ing perch,' it would not have been amiss to categorize him in with a doomsday prophet or carnival fortune teller.
But here we are, 26-years later, and one could arguably say that it Sir Alex Ferguson's mission has been accomplished. Technically, Liverpool are still the most decorated club in English football, but only by the slightest of margins and certainly not in the amount of league titles won.
In the 2008-2009 season, Liverpool cam agonizingly close to winning the Premier League title for the first time, finishing a mere six points behind Manchester United. Having not lost at Anfield all season and accumulating a +6 greater goal differential than United, many thought that Liverpool was finally back where they should be, among the elite of English football. Tragically, the next three seasons would tell a very different story.
Chelsea won the league with 86 points in the 2009-2010 season, just edging out Manchester United by one point, but doing so convincingly with an 8-0 demolition of Wigan on the final day. Liverpool ended the campaign with a whimper, drawing 0-0 away to Hull and amounting a miserly points tally of 63 points, some 23 behind Chelsea. Rafael Benitez was unceremoniously sacked and many fans had turned on Liverpool's North American owners.
Along came the 2010-2011 season and the potential sale of the club combined with the hiring of Roy Hodgson on July 1, 2010, was thought to be a steadying influence at the club during a very tumultuous time. LFC legend and long-time fan favorite, Kenny Dalglish, had expressed interest, but was overlooked. Didier Deschamps also claimed to have been offered the position, prior to Hodgson's appointment.
That season, Manchester United won their 19th league title, overtaking Liverpool's long held record of 18 first division titles. Unlike the convincing final day display champions Chelsea had shown in the previous campaign, United needed to come from a goal down and needed the help of an own goal to beat Blackpool 4-2. The result of this match mattered little though, as they had already secured the title with a game to spare. Liverpool ended their miserable season with a 1-0 defeat away to Aston Villa, finishing one position higher, in sixth, than their previous tilt but having gathered less overall points on the way, only 58 to be precise. The return of Dalglish certainly brought a feel good factor back to Anfield, but had seemingly not changed much on the pitch or in the ladder.
So we come to this season, 2011-2012. With one game to go, Liverpool sit humbly in eight position on 52 points, one behind local rivals Everton, and a whopping 34 points behind league leaders Manchester City. Sure there is a piece of silverware in the cabinet and there was another domestic final to celebrate, but as club captain, Steven Gerrard said, even an FA Cup win would not have papered over the cracks. The fact that Liverpool demolished Chelsea 4-1 at Anfield this morning means nothing more than consolation and a great way to thank to fans for staying loyal.
However, make no mistake, Liverpool is no longer the club that it once was. Sure the history is there, that never changes, but the time has come to sink or swim. Either some tough decisions are to be made to set things straight, or else this once great club will shrink into the obscurity of becoming a mid-table team.
In this world of modern football and the professional athlete, it is very much a 'the rich get richer and the poor get poorer' scenario and Liverpool are in danger of losing touch with the upper echelon of English football.